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Asia-Pacific Telecentre Network – Gearing up for 2012

Asia Pacific Telecentre Network (APTN) Secretariat in partnership with Foundation (TCF) held a meeting on Strengthening the Asia Pacific Telecentre Network recently in Dhaka, Bangladesh. This meeting was held on December 3rd in parallel to eAsia 2011, Asia’s primer ICT event held in Dhaka Bangladesh. The meeting offered a unique opportunity for APTN resource persons, telecentre experts, and practitioners to discuss and highlight the important role of APTN.  The meeting aimed to discuss and come to a conclusion on how telecentre networks/stakeholders in the Asia Pacific Region can benefit from APTN and contribute to understanding on how resources can be mobilized by overcoming the current operating challenges. It is expected that by strengthening the APTN, the network will be to assist the national and regional telecentre networks in Asia-Pacific and become an access point into knowledge hubs of global knowledge network to provide, develop, organize, share, and disseminate knowledge pertinent to telecentre communities. The main objective of the meeting was to assess how APTN can be transform into an active and strong telecentre network in the region. The meeting, therefore, held a brainstorming session with telecentre leaders of countries in the Asia Pacific region to assist in preparation of an action plan for the enhancement of the telecentre networks in the region and to strengthen APTN.

Representing TCF, Maria Teresa Camba, Director of Operations, delivered the opening statement, stating the objectives of the meeting and providing a brief update on other Regional Telecentre Networks. Following her address, Miguel Raimilla, TCF Executive Director, delivered a presentation on how TCF operates as a telecentre network.

The workshop was attended by 10 representatives of telecentre stakeholders, knowledge-hubs, telecentre networks, government agencies from Sri Lanka, Philippines, India, Bangladesh, Fiji Islands, and Thailand. Dil Piyarathna, head of the APTN Secretariat and the Program Head of the Information and Communication Technology Agency og Sri Lanka (ICTA) reported the Progress of the APTN over the last 3-year period and discussed the challenges faced by the APTN. The opening session of the meeting titled ‘Challenges and Opportunities of Telecentres in Asia Pacific’ was moderated by Dr. Angelo Ramos, Chairman of the Philippine Community eCentre Network (PhilCeCNet). He was followed again by Miguel Raimilla, who led the discussion on ‘Setting goals for APTN for 2012 and beyond and how to achieve the goals.’

Conclusions and Recommendations

One of the significant decisions drawn during the meeting was that the APTN secretariat will be hosted by a new country in next 3 year-period commencing 2012.  In identifying the next country host, resource persons from Thailand, Philippines, and India expressed their interest in becoming the next country host. The discussion included the possibility of registering the APTN as a legal entity and members at the meeting agreed that respective members who expressed their interest to host the APTN Secretariat for the coming year (2012) will investigate the presence of an Enabling Policy Environment in their respective countries and will communicate their findings to the APTN Secretariat. It was further agreed that the APTN, as the regional forum for national networks should consult and coordinate with development partners, stakeholders on the possibility of affiliations and that the APTN should create a criteria for its membership, develop working relationships with national focal points; and also lobby for policy influence – criteria for national focal points need to be agreed upon.

Upon selecting the next host country for the APTN, it was decided that the new Secretariat will develop a work plan and an operational business plan for 2012 with funding and technical support from TCF. The APTN web portal and social networking sites will also play an active role as agreed during the meeting:
1. APTN web portal will facilitate periodic online discussion and the APTN profile page in Facebook will be used effectively
2. Each participant of the meeting should provide at least one news/article or blog to the APTN website for a month
3. The APTN community coordinator will receive the web management support from TCF.

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